What does the UK reopening mean for the self-storage businesses? This post goes over safety measures you need to take to keep your staff and customers safe.
As of July 19th, a large portion of coronavirus restrictions put in place during the pandemic will be lifted, and the UK will continue to return life to normal. These are still early stages and exact details haven’t been fully shared with the public. It’s still valuable to plan ahead and look at how the self storage industry will be impacted by reopening. With that said, we’ve pieced together what self storage businesses will look like on the road towards the post-pandemic operation.
Light at the end of the tunnel
July 19th is the big day for reopening, where most legal restrictions put in place during the pandemic will be lifted. Obviously, this has been promised (but postponed) before. There's is still a possibility it won’t happen, but with vaccines proving effective, so it seems that the UK government is going ahead with its reopening plan. There will be many key restrictions that will be lifted:
Limitations on gatherings will be lifted
Guidance on social distancing will no longer be enforced
Face coverings will no longer be legally required
Furthermore, many hospitality businesses such as nightclubs, bars, and restaurants will be allowed to operate at full capacity. All this brings hope that less crowded indoor spaces, such as self-storage facilities, will also be allowed to operate similar to how they did pre-pandemic after July 19th.
So what do all these changes with reopening mean for you as a self-storage manager and your facility? Sadly, it's still complicated. The short answer is that it’s now up to you to figure out how to run your facility post-pandemic. Much like other private sector businesses, you can choose what restrictions you have on your premises, COVID-related or not. This doesn't mean you can drop all the rules right away, or keep them going. Both options will have repercussions in terms of customer experience and service for your business, but there would be no legal implications.
It’s probably best to walk a middle line - your highest priority being staff and customer safety, while still allowing a more ‘normal’ customer experience. Whatever you choose, communicate it clearly to both your staff and customers. Clear signage in-store, announcements on social media, and marketing materials should convey your store’s covid regulations. Staff meetings and memos should also communicate your expectations towards your staff. There is also the option to have them work from home using self storage software if it’s desirable for the company and the employees.
As mentioned, the guiding principle around deciding what regulations to keep should be safety. The first choice regarding staff is to choose whether to work remotely or return to office work. If you choose the latter, there are several things you can do to make your self storage facility as safe as possible. With vaccinations in the UK now widely available, it’s advisable for all your staff to get a full vaccination dose to reduce risks of transmission and symptoms.
Have your staff do regular testing for peace of mind in the workplace. While a lot of rules are being dropped, isolating after testing positive is still in place. If an employee calls in sick, it’s best for them to get a negative test and lose the symptoms before returning to the workplace. Finally, sanitation will still be a key addition to your staff’s responsibilities. Continuous cleaning of high-contact surfaces, readily available hand sanitiser, and an overall higher level of upkeep are things you should consider keeping up even through reopening. Many customers might be used to higher sanitation as a result of the past year, and could be deterred by dropping hygiene post-pandemic.
On the customer’s side, using a track and trace system is the easiest way of keeping them safe. You’ll be informed if someone who has been in contact with your facility or staff has tested positive, and then be able to take the necessary steps to make sure the facility can still operate safely. Either way, track and trace is a reliable way of keeping your facility safe for your customers. Again, COVID staples like readily available hand sanitiser and masks would be advised, even if it’s just to make your customer feel more at ease. Choosing what regulations to enforce in your facility will maybe deter a portion of your customers anyway, so your priority should be customer safety.
Overall, the UK reopening is still unclear on what that means for businesses, but it's also moving us along in making life ‘normal’ again. These considerations are all important for your facility to operate safely as the rest of the world reopens as well.